Charlie McAvoy of the Bruins will make his debut against the Flames

Charlie McAvoy of the Bruins will make his debut against the Flames

After a long rehabilitation from off-season surgery, Boston Bruins defender Charlie McAvoy will make his season debut on Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

McAvoy, the Bruins’ top scorer, underwent a complex arthroscopic stabilization procedure on his left shoulder on June 3 and was expected to miss at least six months. However, Boston coach Jim Montgomery said Wednesday that McAvoy was ahead of schedule and “checked a lot of boxes” that would make him available for Thursday’s game.

“I’m doing good,” McAvoy said after Wednesday’s practice. “We just keep stacking these boxes. Feeling good about where we are and just going one day at a time. Getting excited [about coming back].”

Montgomery confirmed that McAvoy will return to his prime with his partner Matt Grzelcyk against the Flames, but he didn’t rule out a little “mix and match” on the back end as needed. This is Montgomery’s first season behind the Bruins bench, but he is familiar with McAvoy’s reputation as a game-changing defender.

McAvoy, 24, is coming off a breakout season in which he scored 10 goals and 56 points in 78 games, including 21 points on the power play. He also paced the Bruins in ice time last year with nearly 25 minutes per game, though Montgomery doesn’t see such a heavy workload in McAvoy’s immediate future.

“We’re very lucky with the D-corps we have, we don’t need to [McAvoy] to play 24 minutes,” Montgomery said Thursday. “But I expect him to play 20 [against the Flames]. How it affects the game in all three zones [is impressive]. It doesn’t seem to take a second off. Whether he’s pressing pucks, whether he’s finishing plays, whether he’s hitting somebody or whether he’s getting the puck from the break through the neutral zone, breaking the puck and driving the net, we’ve got a chance at the net.”

The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference at 11-2-0, despite losing both McAvoy and the top end. Brad Marchand to start the season. Marchand had hip surgery in the offseason and returned to Boston on October 27th.

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